This article appeared in the October 2013 of Western Shooting Journal. If you like articles like this, SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $19.95 a year for 12 issues, that’s 66% off the cover price!
Article and photos by Shayne Downing (right)
I first met Caylen Wojcik three years ago. I was running a side business processing firearm transfers out of an 8-foot by 10-foot office in Yakima, Wash. The first thing that struck me about Caylen was his high level of intensity and profound knowledge of everything firearm related … especially rifles and optics. Our first conversation was based around a topic which at the time, I found to be a bit far-fetched. As I processed a transfer for him, Caylen proceeded to describe tales of precision about rifle shooting containing terms and techniques that intrigued me, but at the same time made my head hurt and wonder exactly what sort of snake oil this guy was selling.
Having grown up on the East Coast in a hunting and shooting family, the extent of my precision rifle shooting was what you could call limited. I received a Remington 700 BDL chambered in 6mm from my dad when I was 4 years old and had taken many whitetail buck with the gun. It was fitted with a duplex cross-hair reticle which was pretty standard for the time. While the rifle had proven competent for the farmfields of western Pennsylvania, a shot over 300 yards was something of deer camp folklore. A deer taken at that “long-range” distance would have landed your photo solidly on the front page of the local paper.
Now I found myself in my cubicle of an office listening to some guy rattle on about effectively engaging targets out to 1,000 yards with a .308 caliber rifle. I politely listened all the while wondering if this battle-tested Marine Scout Sniper had been spending a little too much time in the sun. Caylen closed out our first encounter with an invitation to take one of his Magpul Dynamics Precision Rifle courses. The thought rattled around in my brain a bit, and was stored soundly on the back burner until I took a step which has had the eventual effect of changing every aspect of the way I think about shooting a rifle. I Googled “Magpul Dynamics Precision Rifle” and after a minute and 30 seconds, my little closed-minded shooting world was forever changed and I haven’t looked back since.
I remember after watching the video I spent the next hours late into the night figuring out exactly what I’d need to begin the new chapter of my shooting life. I droned over countless websites devoted to precision rifles, and eventually decided to build my own semi-auto gas-operated rifle based off of the LR-308 platform. This gun, outfitted with what I now know to be an under-powered, sub-standard optic, would be the platform I chose to take Magpul’s entry-level precision course, Special Purpose Rifle / Designated Marksman. This course is designed around the semi-automatic mid-range rifles capable of engaging targets out to approximately 700 meters. That 3-day course ignited a new passion in me, and opened my eyes to the potential of shooting rifles at things once considered to be really far away.
The second thing the course opened my eyes to was what an amazing resource the shooting community had in Caylen Wojcik. Caylen’s well-balanced technical teachings, intermixed with well-directed critique and a healthy dose of performance-enhancing pressure and witty ridicule, seemed to be exactly what we all had come for and certainly helped our class of 12 shooters improve beyond our wildest expectations. After my first SPR/DMR class, I was hooked and my mind desperately craved more exposure and knowledge in the realm of precision rifle shooting. The next few months found me reading up on the topic, practicing what I had learned, telling anyone who would listen how incredible precision shooting was, and luckily, consulting with Caylen who graciously, is always open to fielding emails and phone calls.
That fall, thanks to the teachings of Caylen, and my persistent follow up in the form of continual practice, I was able to harvest a 300-class Colorado bull elk at 540 yards, a shot that prior to the fundamentals taught in the SPR course, would have been considered to be unachievable by my standards. That course had truly opened new opportunities for me. Long story short, after several more of Caylen’s Magpul Dynamic’s Precision Rifle Courses, numerous Precision Rifle Matches, and as much range time as my schedule would allow, I found myself running my firearms business full-time with locations in Yakima, Wash., and Centennial, Colo. Much of my product knowledge was gained from conversations with Caylen and his introduction to individuals in the industry. Our focus, because of Caylen’s influence, had become custom AR-15 rifles, designated marksman rifles, and of course, precision rifles.
There was one final step in my progression to having a rock-solid foundation of fundamentals with the intent of making me a more proficient competitive shooter and more effective rifle hunter. That step was the Magpul Dynamics Precision Rifle 2 Course. This can be considered the final 3 percent of knowledge that a proficient precision shooter can expect to gain. The introductory courses taught in the Magpul classes, such as Precision Hunter and Special Purpose Rifle will gain you about 90 percent of a fundamentally sound precision rifle shooter’s knowledge base. Precision Rifle 1 will gain you roughly another 7 percent of knowledge, relying on the same fundamentals and skill set learned in the introductory courses. The Magpul Dynamics PR2 course utilizes all of the same equipment as used in PR1, and can be thought of as the final refinement of a precision shooter’s skill set.
Getting set up for the Precision 2 class, I opted to run a bolt gun I built from a short action Remington 700 (just like the one I received from my dad when I was 4 years old). I chambered the rifle in 7mm-08 for enhanced ballistic performance over the .308 caliber. The rifle was built in a Kinetic Research Group Whiskey 3 chassis, topped with American Rifle Company 34mm M-10 rings, and a Bushnell Elite Tactical 3.5×21 first focal scope. Me owning a gun shop probably led to the higher-end setup of my rifle, but the PR2 class can be equally performed with a modestly-built bolt-action rifle with an adjustable stock, bipod, and high-quality 20 power, externally adjustable scope with a mildot reticle.
The great thing about the Precision Rifle 2 class, which I didn’t understand until after taking the class, is that it simply took what was learned in the previous courses and added all of the learned skills together in order to accomplish completing a specified course of fire. The 3-day course, conducted at Magpul’s precision rifle facility in Central Washington, focuses once again on the fundamentals of precision rifle shooting; natural point of aim, optic adjustment, breathing, trigger control, and follow through. From the fundamentals, you rapidly progress through a refresher of skill sets previously learned and dive right into positional shooting from tripods and off barricades in an array of various positions. Caylen reinforces your knowledge of wind reads and mirage by further elaborating on the science behind shooting in varying environmental conditions as well the beginning of stacking additional tasks and sources of stress on the shooter’s body and mind. As a culmination of everything learned, the shooter engages in a real world exercise of long-range target engagement from a tripod, on targets of unknown distances out to 600 yards, all the while processing the environmental conditions present in a slot canyon, and under the nerve-shaking presence of a timer. In addition to flying solo on a course of fire, shooters can expect to work in spotter/shooter teams in a Tango Down drill designed to focus on target identification, transitional shooting, range estimating, and effective partner communication. While PR2 does afford the shooter the opportunity to engage targets out to 1,700 yards, Caylen’s comprehensive discussions concerning ballistic stability quickly enable the shooter to witness with their own eyes, the physical limitations of short action cartridges at extended ranges … especially in 20-mile-per-hour winds. Anyone looking to take their shooting to that next level should seriously consider training with Magpul Dynamics under the masterful instruction of Caylen Wojcik.
Editor’s note: Magpul Dynamics offers a wide array of precision rifle Courses throughout the year and can be contacted at magpuldynamics.com. Author Shayne Downing, a transplant from western Pennsylvania, is owner of Tactical Supply Alpha located in Yakima, Wash., found online at tacticalsupplier.com. He is an avid precision rifle and competitive shooter, utilizing many of the products stocked in his retail and online store.